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The Year Of The Nurse: A 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir

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Join Corinna as she interviews a dear friend and prolific author, Cassandra (Cassie) Alexander about her recent (and VERY current) book, “The Year of The Nurse: A 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir” which catalogs her experience as an ICU nurse treating Covid patients. Subjects covered in this podcast episode and her book include a deep dive into what it was like to be an ICU nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, depression, PTSD, mental health, writing as therapy, writing for escape, and the importance of de-platforming misinformation and lies. Your life could depend on it. The book’s story is told chronologically and brings us through early days in the pandemic in mid-March 2020 to early June 2021. The perspective you will gain from listening to this episode and reading her book cannot be understated. The Year of The Nurse  is for everyone, nurse or otherwise, who is furious about how 2020 went down — and how 2021 is going.

About Our Guest: Cassandra Alexander, RN, Author, Badass Cassandra Alexander is a registered nurse of fourteen years, with experience in burn, critical care transport, and ICU. She lives in the Bay Area, and writes paranormal fiction as Cassie Alexander (

The Year Of The Nurse, Book Link: 

Time Stamps:

00:00 Introduction

03:33 Motivation to write “The Year of The Nurse” and create the blog “Two Nurses Talking”

07:38 Grotesque Honesty – What it was like to be a nurse in the ICU treating Covid-19

10:40 Friendship, Tackling PTSD and Depression

14:00 Stylistic choices in writing “The Year Of The Nurse”

17:30 Where are we now in the Pandemic?

20:40 Essential Workers? Or Sacrificial Lambs?

30:43 Depression in the pandemic

33:33 What is Cassie writing next?

35:45 Tools for those suffering from PTSD and closing thoughts

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Corinna Bellizzi

Hello, fellow do-gooders and friends. I am your host, Corinna Bellizzi and activist, and cause marketer. Who’s passionate about social impact and sustainability today. We’re in for a real treat. As I have the opportunity to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, she’s a registered nurse and prolific author whose new book was just released July 19th, 2021.

On the day we record this. Before we meet her. I’d like for you to visit our website, care more, be You can sign up for our newsletter to be the first to gain access to new episodes and easily browse past content. You’ll find full transcripts suggestions for actions you can take to make a difference where you live and even make a contribution to support the show.

Our guest Cassandra Alexander is a registered nurse of 14 years with experience in burn, critical care, transport and ICU. She lives in the bay area and writes paranormal fiction as Cassie Alexander.

Her new book is called year of the nurse, a 2020 pandemic memoir, Cassie. Welcome to the show.

Cassie Alexander

Hi, I’m super excited to be here.

Corinna Bellizzi

I just plowed through your book this weekend and I have to say it is so very real and raw and unfiltered. I found myself feeling like I got to know you better, even through the course of reading it.

And I really was transported back to the beginning of our pandemic, but this time I was experiencing it through your eyes. So tell me what made you decide to write this book?

Cassie Alexander

Well, so As a writer… Or as somebody who kind of writes at baseline, I always write about everything all the time. And so as you know, from having read the book, a lot of it is transcripts from journals or emails or tweaks that I made contemporaneously with the timeline.

And I was pushing back on the idea of doing anything with that until at the end of April, I kind of had a suicidal crisis at work. Basically all the PTSD from having been an ICU nurse in 2020, caught up with me and I started crying and I basically couldn’t stop for three weeks. And luckily I was able to get in touch with my old therapist because my hospital system wasn’t able to provide me with one because they’re so packed.

So I was paying her out of pocket and she was like, you know, I know you’re a writer. You should probably write through some of this. And I pushed back for about a month. And then I was like, no, I think you’re right. Let me do it. And then once I started doing it, I, I couldn’t stop. I just needed to get everything out of me.

I needed to feel all the memories that I kept buttoned down for the whole time. Just so I could survive. And To kind of put myself back together. So hopefully I can move forward. So that’s where it came from is basically it’s my therapy book that hopefully other people will enjoy reading.

Corinna Bellizzi

I understand that it sprung forth from a lot of your efforts. As you go through it, you even include tweets, you include essays that you wrote for a blog. I think it was called two nurses. So can you talk a little bit about that blog and how that came to.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. So you know, as a nurse, basically, I have a huge vested interest in public health, and I was tired of people coming to the ICU and dying.

It was like, you know how grim it was because you read my book. I know, but like, I feel like the average person has no idea what goes on in the hospital. What goes on in the ICU in particular and what COVID was like in particular infinity, because there weren’t any visitors at that time. And so You know, me and my, my cohort of nurses were out there trying to educate people, trying to tell people, Hey, stay home for the holidays.

Don’t be stupid. Please. Don’t make us have to take care of you. Don’t die. And then just sometime in the middle of November, the wheels fell off and we, and one of my friends decided to create a blog called Two Nurses Talking because we just wanted to yell both to each other. Yes. And to feel heard. But hopefully to also make it interesting enough that people would like sit back and think about like, why is staffing that at the hospital right now?

Why should I stay home? You know, what is it like, did I connect COVID? What does life support really mean? And so a lot of the entries came from that series of posts where I was just trying to educate people as wildly as I could in an effort to keep them safe.

Corinna Bellizzi

yeah. Some people could go ahead and say it was all in an effort to keep them safe, but you were among the first to volunteer.

I think that you started working on COVID patients on March 14th, which is earlier than a lot of people even started to take the pandemic seriously. So I was hoping you could talk about why you chose to volunteer and what that meant to you at that time.

Cassie Alexander

Oh, Corinna… It’s I’m a dumb ass.

I wish, I wish I could have some glorious answer for you that I was like, I don’t know, you know, like nurses have a vested interest in, in being performatively, tough ICU nurses in particular or emergency department nurses as well. And you want to think that you can handle the worst cause that comes from the door.

And so the easiest way to prove to yourself that you can conquer anything is to get there and try and do it. So and you know, I don’t have any children. My in-laws, my parents were all, you know, distanced from us, right. And, and also too because my burn training had had really extensive experience being in isolation gear.

So I felt like my isolation gear game was going to be really good at the hospital. So, I volunteered and I lived to regret it in a good way, I guess. Cause living is great. But yeah, I mean, eventually everyone got their time because we had so many COVID patients that are within escapable, but yeah.

Yeah. I, it was not altruism. It was stupidity.

Corinna Bellizzi

Well, I appreciate the effort and I can only imagine what it was like to literally get into that isolation gear and out of it every day. I think you even described the routine that you had when you got home. So it was not to infect Paul, right?

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. Yeah, that was a scary thing.

You know, you know how it always says where it’s easier to like help other people than it is to help yourself so often that was the, probably the scariest thing is just, I wasn’t so worried about what would happen to me if I got COVID, although I was appropriately afraid of it and I did not want to get it at all, but I was more so afraid of what would happen to Paul if he got it, you know, so I’ve pretty much kept my, my husband.

At home, like a bubble boy, and he was fine with that because he knew I had his best interest at heart. So

Corinna Bellizzi

yeah. Now the year of the nurse is quite the departure from your earlier works and paranormal and erotic fiction. So I think, I, in fact, remember you talking about the Edie Spence series as being part of the way you coped with a lot of long nights working alone and also just the stress of having to clean people’s wounds. I’m sure it wasn’t always fun. So, yeah, I would just like to hear you talk a little bit about the choice to go from a fiction, a world of fiction into this one he really went straight for the jugular, so I just love it.

Cassie Alexander

Well, the only way that people will believe this book, I feel like is if I was brutally honest, somebody on Twitter the other day, Who’d been reading my tweets all along and who, who bought a copy of the book was just like, I appreciate your grotesque honesty.

And I thought that that was a really interesting way of putting it because I don’t always say things that are pretty, but they are always true. And so. Let everybody know exactly what it was like to be me at the hospital last year. And that’s what people need to see is the unfiltered truth. So this isn’t creative non-fiction I didn’t sit around and think about how to make things nicer or prettier.

If you were to go back and look at my author newsletter, from my tweet timeline, you would see that these are the actual events that took place to me. When I started writing with an aim towards publication a long time ago The things that interested me at the time were you know, fantasy science fiction, that sort of stuff you can see over here that my, or our mission tomorrow movie poster over there in the corner.

And so those were the tools that I had at hand to express myself originally when I started as a nurse and I still do enjoy that. I write for a paranormal romance both as Cassie Alexander, and then with a friend under the code name Cassie Lockhart. And, and I’m still writing those. And I do believe that things that are softer and more romantic have a place in the world because it’s important to have reasons to feel good and have some escapism, like escapism is value.

But you’re, the nurse just needed to be like straight up, tell it as it is history. So that’s kind of why that hard line is there. And so hopefully I will never have caused right. Anything like that ever again, if we can figure our shit.

Corinna Bellizzi

And so how has being so Frank. Affected you and those around you, those that are close to you?

Cassie Alexander

Well, it’s so funny, Corinna. We visited my father-in-law. Yesterday. And he gave me the sweetest part because he actually read my book and he’s my only family member who’s actually read the book. Because as we know from having read at one of the sub threads and it is my interactions with my family who are Republican and who chose not to really believe what was going down so much so that my mom wound up getting COVID, even though she has a nurse for a daughter.

So existential crisis time So I haven’t really talked to them about this book at all. I’m not really interested in having that conversation with them because I don’t think either of us will enjoy it. And then my husband, Paul, you know him, so he opted not to read the book cause he got to see the play as he put it because he was here with me every day, trying to keep me in one piece and it was kind of hard for him.

And so he doesn’t really want to go back and like relive that time , but as far as my friend group, though, like, I mean you, and, you know, our shared friends, everybody took COVID so appropriately seriously. And that really gave me a lot of hope for the world and it made my heart feel good that there were people out there who were treating it like the danger that it was and making sure that their family stayed safe and that everyone around them.

Everybody is like, my close personal friend was great about masks . I never had to worry about going on Instagram and seeing people being stupid. It was fantastic. So I don’t want to say that it’s tightened my relationship with my friends, but I just, it’s only increased my ongoing respect and love for them.

Corinna Bellizzi

You actually write quite a bit about friendship in the book, too. And one of the things that you talk about tackling is post-traumatic stress disorder and some of the friends you have ultimately being there to support you, but also not necessarily always knowing what they should do or need to do to support you.

So I just like for you to tell our audience about the challenges you’ve faced as you encountered this whether it was. From trying to get the right care that you would need or just trying to help people understand your perspective and where you were coming from.

Cassie Alexander

I think just the most important thing for anybody who’s suffering from PTSD is to have their stories honored and believed.

Because for me, at least that was one of the big things that caused my PTSD was the cognitive dissonance. Seeing hers in the hospital and then hearing, you know, the world not give a shit while people died and, you know and, and so, while I don’t want to ever traumatize anybody by telling them brutal truth necessarily.

I don’t want to give anybody else damaged, but, you know giving them PTSD, so to speak too honest. But the people who do have the capability and the wherewithal to listen to your friends is they express their trauma and to not shut them down and to acknowledge that it’s real. And that those events did happen to them.

Even if you don’t necessarily have any firsthand or personal experience, that, that sort of thing. That, that means the world, just knowing that people are willing to trust the experiences that you went through as you lived with them. And, and that was probably the most helpful thing, not feeling so alone, I guess, is what you can really boil that down to Corinna.

It, you know,

Corinna Bellizzi

that’s so commiseration without judging.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. Yeah, because the whole experience felt so lonely just because, it had to be to some degree because I isolated myself from the world. I didn’t want to give anybody else COVID , I knew I was interacting with people who had it. And, and so, and sometimes it’s just hard to want to go there with people at the same time.

I think one of the things I said in the book was , interacting with normal people, civilians, so to speak was kind of like getting letters from home. And that, that element was really good too, I think. Cause you don’t want to be a pariah. Being a Pret is not good for your mental health.

And so having somebody who is willing to talk to you about their childcare issues, or like , they need to get laundry done and stuff like that, it can kind of re help ground you in humanity. When you are having to see and do very inhumane things.

Corinna Bellizzi

I mean, I can only speak from my own personal experience that year. And I will say that it was hard not having the ability to just reach out to my friends and have a big. The extrovert in me suffered for not being able to have that kind of connection. And I honestly think was a good part of the reason that I actually started this podcast in the first place, because it enabled me to connect with people in a different way and a deeper fashion than I might otherwise.

And a quick phone call. So, putting my own good out into the world through a podcast and connecting with people in a real way. I mean, it’s just so valuable to hear, you know, how they’re experiencing. Now the title of the book, the year of the nurse and the style in which it’s written are quite disruptive, a little unexpected.

So I was hoping you could talk about the stylistic choices you made, even down to the title.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. So so I called it Year Of The Nurse, because with heavy irony, the world health organization actually designated 2020 as the year of the nurse, I think, because it was like my signing guilt, 200th birthday or something.

And so I’m. My break room, but I have feeling many other break rooms in hospitals across America had posters from the world health organization saying 20, 20 year of the nurse. And you’d walk into the break room. You’d be sweaty. You’d be like, hoping you’re not going to die. And then you would just see that motto on the wall and you’d be like, yeah.

So and then 2020 was so bad that 20, 21 got a Mulligan. And so it, 20, 21 is still a year of the nurse. So that just seemed like a super appropriate title because the book itself is chronological. So it feeds into that. But then also to anybody who was a nurse last year would understand, the subtle jab I’m taking.

And then as for the way that it’s done. Okay. I decided that chronological was the best way to do it, which means it’s kind of like an epistolary novel. Which is like, like a diary essentially, except with maybe more ancillary material. And that’s just the style of book that’s fallen out of fashion, but they used to do them a lot in like the 18 hundreds and in a way Dracula was an epistolary novel.

It had like headlines from newspapers and that sort of thing involved in it. I thought it was a good way to keep people abreast of the situation at work, as I was experiencing it with my tweets and with my longer thoughts as I had them, like in my journals and my emails or my newsletters. And then I’ve got that kind of ticker tape of what’s happening nationally, periodically, because I wanted people to remember everything that had gone down.

I’ve had several people read the book already and come back to me and be like, oh my God, I forgot all those things happen. But like 2020, it was so bad that we blocked a lot of it out. And not that that’s not a good thing. I don’t want everybody to go back, but like when you read it in your book, you’re like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe that collectively, we all went through this administration trying to kill us and all these different ways that I enumerate.

And then at the back of the book, I don’t know if the copy that I sent you had it, but it actually has like a 15 page bibliography,

Corinna Bellizzi

which is really helpful because if you want to go back, you can say, okay, well, oh, that was the. And it’s literally, instead of being alphabetical, you’ve done it chronologically.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. Yeah. Because I wanted everyone to know that I had like proof for every single stupid thing that Trump ever said. And you know, that decision was that the administration made, so yeah. Yeah.

Corinna Bellizzi

You do talk at length in the book about. The politicization of public health. And to put it, frankly, as you’ve said, I mean, it was a really, really bad year in that way.

I mean, making masks or the mandate for masks, a political issue, as opposed to a public health issue, I think served absolutely no one. And it killed a lot of people. Like let’s be Frank spread the disease, you spread the disease to many people who otherwise might not have been infected. And regardless of what their underlying health conditions.

You know what? Over 600,000 people possibly as much as a million people have, have died during the pandemic. So I was hoping you could talk about where you see us right now, because the book takes us through early June or mid June, I think which is really not long ago and whether or not it’s like, it’s very current.

It should be a 20, 20 to 20, 21 year.

Cassie Alexander

I mean, we’re, we’re taping this on like the 19th of July. And I think I wrote my afterward, like on July 8th. So that’s the immediacy of self-publishing for you? The, yes, unfortunately. It’s splitting into two Americas. And I think anybody who has eyes to see can see that where the people who are vaccinated are doing okay, maybe they are having to go to the hospital if they get breakthrough COVID, but they’re not being hospitalized and they’re not getting intubated.

Although, unfortunately it seems like they may still be having long COVID symptoms, which is bullshit. And then the people who keep believing Fox news, which keeps trying for some reason to murder its viewers and. Yeah, just today, somebody on Fox news is saying it’s not the government’s job to keep us safe, basically.

And that is the actual definition of a government, otherwise, why do we have military? Why do we have police? So yeah, I don’t understand. The Republican party and what Fox news is gaining by murdering civilians, which is essentially what’s happening every time they tell somebody not to get vaccinated.

I mean, can you imagine having the, to biggest Bullhorn and not using it to save lives? It just boggles the mind or at least it boggles my mind. And so. And, and as long as they keep beating that drum, they’re not held accountable. There’s just going to be a certain segment of the population who’s vulnerable to COVID.

And unfortunately they’re the ones who are dying from it right now. And, you know, hospitals in the Midwest are getting slammed like this. So first off, you know, you know, we’re just all terrifically burnt, right? Like nobody has any room at the end for emotions, compassion for picking up overtime for, you know, anything anymore, because.

Last year sucked so hard and everybody needed breather and we haven’t gotten the chance to get that truly. The only reason I’ve gotten enough of a breather to do this book is basically because I went out on psych leave. I mean, that’s not fair to everybody else. Who’s still back there working hard. And so right now, there’s hospitals in Missouri that recently put out SOS is for extra respiratory therapists because they’re seeing such a surge.

And like all the hospitals in in Missouri right now are being forcibly held open. When you are so full that you can’t take any more patients, you we kind of go like You basically turn your hospital off and they’re supposed to diver everybody around, but then when all the hospitals are too full simultaneously, then everybody has to open back up because there’s nowhere to go to take you to save you.

And that’s, what’s the thing in Missouri right now. So people are dying, not only because of COVID, but because the hospitals are too full to take good care of anybody who comes in for no fault of their own. And definitely not through the fault of the staff, we’re still in the trenches working as hard as they can.

So, yeah, until we basically turn off Fox news and de-platform lies, we’re going to continue to get boned.

Corinna Bellizzi

So essentially what you’re saying is the fallout still happening.

Cassie Alexander

Oh, oh yeah. Yeah. I’m sorry. That’s the too long. Don’t read version

Corinna Bellizzi

too long ago. Read. Oh my gosh. It was a particularly bad year for those working in healthcare and other essential services in your book, you said something to the effect that they are called essential, even though sacrificial might be a better term.

Yeah. And I mean, it was that the thing I, I had heard before, I had heard people who were working in essential roles saying something to the effect of it really feels more like I’m a sacrificial lamb than an essential worker. I’m not being given appropriate materials to protect myself.

I have a cloth mask that I made at home that I’m using to work at the grocery store. I don’t have gloves any longer because I ran out and I couldn’t get any more from the local stores. I mean, just all of those basics that were not necessarily being covered, even by people just working at the grocery store and you’re working in a hospital.

With people who have COVID confirmed and many who don’t have COVID confirmed yet, you’re waiting test results, but you’ve seen lung scans showing you markers that say, Hey, this person has something going on. That looks like it very much could be COVID. So I just like for you to share what you think that we can do collectively to improve, not only.

Just how people are seeing that are working in these roles, but just the access to the tools that you need in an ongoing capacity.

Cassie Alexander

So I have several thoughts about that. And hopefully I remember them all. It’s through a three thoughts me, hopefully I’ll get to them all first off. Yeah. The people in grocery stores are fucking heroes and I at least when I was at work, I had appropriate gear and I knew who I should be worried about.

Um, People who were forced, anybody in customer service during COVID, who was forced to be out there amongst the public who may not have cared if they lived or died or you know, blindly assumed they were asymptomatic, even though they might have been at, they just weren’t experiencing symptoms at the time.

So. I feel like grocery store employees were at a higher risk than I was in many ways, because at least people were being careful where I work. Because I’m sure they saw just as many COVID people as I did. I feel like right now we’re seeing this kind of shameful turn in America where it’s horrible underbelly is coming to light.

Like a couple months ago, there was all the off EDS about like, oh, we have to turn off unemployment so we can make all those servers go back to work. There’s no one working in the kitchens. And because you know, of the, they’re getting unemployment pay as opposed to fact that like, they were treated like crap by the nation, just like nurses were for almost a whole year.

And you’re seeing that now, too. On the airlines, right? Those people who, all of a sudden, you know, get up 8,000 feet. And then they feel like they have to act out and take off their masks and punch people so that they lose teeth. Come on now. And so. I am not entirely sure how to stem that tide of vitriol that apparently has just been working in America’s veins all along.

I just have to kind of loop back to cutting it off at the source, which is to de-platform liars and turn off Fox. So that people stop hearing that it is okay to not participate in society and to treat other people poorly because that’s not true. And then as far as protecting other people and essential workers, I think right now, Hopefully more people have access to PPE in the United States, but tip well, if you have the opportunity to tip the service person, tip them well, because you appreciate the danger that they put themselves in.

And and don’t be an asshole, you know, don’t, don’t take your mask off. Don’t take a swing at people. Nobody needs to hear your bad opinions about vaccines. You just keep it to yourself and, you know, be responsible. Don’t move along. 99.9, 9% of customer service people. And I include nurses in that number.

That’s really all we ask of you.

Corinna Bellizzi

So presently in Santa Cruz county, right? There is no mask mandate going inside to grocery stores and other indoor spaces yet that is starting to resoundingly be the recommendation again, all over the bay area. So it was hoping that you could offer your perspective on what people should do now to protect them.

Particularly since we have the Delta variant coming loud and proud into California and other places around the area.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah. Yeah. Like basically if you Google long, you should have no interest in ever being exposed to COVID and having lasting detrimental effects from it. Like your lungs are a precious commodity and you want to keep them as healthy as you can moving into old age.

And it doesn’t matter what year you start off at, you know, nobody should start smoking when they’re sick that doesn’t make it better. Cause your lungs are younger. Um, Everybody should be thinking about how I can maintain my health currently and into old age. And so everybody should just be wearing a mask for a very long time until we somehow really do achieve herd immunity.

And when we actually managed to do that, scientists will be blaring it from the rooftops like revelation is at hand. But that requires that everybody gets on board with the vaccines and we have a high enough uptake of vaccines in a timely fashion to kind of squash Delta and these other variants that are coming along right now.

Personally, I am always going to wear a mask indoor spaces. I don’t eat indoors yet. I don’t know that I will, for quite some time, the only time I hang out maskless is when I’m around friends. And I know that we’ve all been vaccinated. And that is about it. And, and that makes me sad, right? Because I, you know, I’m an extrovert, I’m not usually a hermit.

I like to go to shows. I like to go to like plays and stuff. So this year hasn’t been great for me. I haven’t been really excited to be living in a cave, but I know that I want my, my body and my brain to be as healthy as I can be going on. I don’t want to increase my risk for anything to drive, seem too many scarred lung x-rays right now.

I kind of wish that. We could do like you know, you know, this old, tiny drug commercials they had, like, this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs. And over cheesy with the eggs and stuff, you know, I kind of wish we could do, like, these are your lungs and these are your lungs on COVID. And then, you know, even the late person could tell the noticeable difference of one scarification.

And once your lungs get stuck, The sparks may not ever heal because that’s just, how long did she work? So so yeah, so I don’t know why people are so excited to go and read other people’s air right now. You’re not, no, one’s going to give you a medal for not wearing a mask. Like what are you accomplishing by putting yourself in danger?

Literally nothing.

Corinna Bellizzi

So for those that have re-introduced air travel, what are your thoughts?

Cassie Alexander

I do have thoughts on this. I’m actually taking a flight on Wednesday.

Corinna Bellizzi

I’m getting ready to take one in one week. Next Wednesday’s maybe flying around the

Cassie Alexander

same time. I’m going to Portland. I don’t know if you are. No, I’m basically just like putting, I don’t have a N 95 at home, but I have Kate and 95 at home.

Step down and I just didn’t get to put it on and not take it off to like, get to where I’m going. I don’t need to eat or drink while I’m in the airport. It’s fine. You know, luckily for me, it’s like, it’s just going to be like a 90 minute flight, so it’s not going to be soul crushing. I have heard good things about the filtration systems that planes have put in.

Even in the, before times, I wasn’t really looking forward to breathing air on airplanes. So I’m certainly not now. So I’m just going to leave my, my mask, like still to my face. And, but it’s going to be okay though, because you know, masks work and especially now that, you know, airplanes are still making everyone wear masks, we should be fine.

Corinna Bellizzi

So I have a question for you about the actual writing of the book. Did you enjoy writing it? Did it satisfy, satisfy you the same way as writing fiction? I mean, you said you hope you never have to write one, like it again, but,

Cassie Alexander

oh my gosh. You know, that’s such a great question. Was it therapeutic to write? Yes. Did I enjoy having to write it? No. It felt good at the time though. I, I have this saying, because I’ve written so much fiction in my life, you know, when you when you finish, when you’re writing a book, you’re kind of spinning a cocoon around yourself. And then when you’re done with the book, you break out of the cocoon and you are a different person, like you have been transformed in some ways, small or large.

And that’s why sometimes when I’m in other groups, you have notes on a book. It’s really hard to get back into the book and to make those changes, because you’re not the same person who wrote that book anymore. And so I feel like this book is very much like that for me. Like I even with the mental health that I have now, I would not have been capable of writing the book and correlating it and stuff like I did in may and June.

Because I’m a more whole person now. And my my brain is a lot better. I don’t think I would have the wherewithal. Pick up all the rocks and look underneath them. Like I did at the time when I was living through my depression and anxiety and PTSD all of which I still have just to a lesser and more control and Moultrie now.

So so yeah, I. I, I, I am glad actually, so I’m not, I’m glad I’m not the person who wrote the book anymore, but I am proud to have written the book. And I do think that it’s necessary for people to read so that they understand what they put nurses through and why we cannot do that to nurses or any anyone.


Corinna Bellizzi

I made the recommendation that some gals in my book club read it because some of them actually do work in the medical field and others are just like, I could use a review of what it was like to be in those shoes. And I think it’s a powerful piece because as much as we might’ve heard in the media or reviewed on Facebook on videos or whatever, we weren’t in your shoes.

And I feel like the book does a really good job of placing the reader in your shoes and understanding what it felt like to be there. You have an analogy in the book specifically is you’re talking about depression that I really resonated with because. I mean, I’m also very good at putting on the smile and just getting out there and doing, even when things are really bad because productive people were generally like that.

I think you said something like when you feel really flat, so flat that you could essentially slide under an air lock door and. I mean that just spoke to me and this way that I don’t think any other description of depression ever has. And so I wanted to commend you for that. And also just to say that, I think it’s powerful in the analogies that you bring in to talk about these real issues that we face when we are facing the unsurmountable and or what feels like it’s unsurmountable.

So really just artfully done. And thank you for writing. I know it wasn’t easy.

Cassie Alexander

No, thank you. Thank you. You know, and I mean, I feel bad because, you know, as I said in the book itself, there were definitely nurses who had it so much worse than I did. Like I live, luckily I’m in the bay area. I work in the bay area of California as a whole.

Didn’t get hit as bad as other places. The bay area in particular, didn’t get hit. So I, I know, I know that there were other nurses out there who were like way more in the trenches who had horrible ratios of like one nurse to nine ICU patients is something that happened in New York. One of our travelers told us.

And so I know that people had more stressful circumstances out there. So. So my experience is nurse buys may not be everyone’s experience, but I know that had that writing history. And so I was like, so who am I to write this book? And I was like, well, I’m a writer. And not that many nurses are also writers.

And so that’s why I felt compelled to step up to the plate because the experience of being a nurse is so different from like the cultural perspective that America has about nurses. And I wanted to really try and bridge that gap.

Corinna Bellizzi

Well, I felt like I saw COVID through your eyes. It was a little bit of a reliving and I didn’t have much that I’d forgotten.

So I sometimes painfully laughed as I got through it because, oh yes, I remember this. But it was it was quite the journey and it was really, I think, most surprising to me on completing it. I mean, really that was just a year. Maybe it was 15, 16 months that you went through in the book itself.

But for the most part, it was a year and how much and how bad things got in the space of that year was really incredible. And so to look back and say, we got through that year, it feels like an accomplishment, even if we’re not completely through it yet. Like it’s amazing in a way that is, as many of us have not been personally.

Afflicted with COVID given how everything went. And so I just totally the reflection, it was definitely a reflective read. You couldn’t help, but reflect on the last year as you were reading it. So I was hoping we could talk for a moment about your fiction and what you’re writing now or what you’re writing next to, or what you’re planning to do.

What’s firing you up.

Cassie Alexander

I actually started a new book today because it was released day for, you know, you’re the nurse. And I was like, oh gosh, I need a distraction so bad. So here comes dragon shifters. So yeah, I’ve been writing this book series with a friend of mine and I’m actually working on the eighth book in the series kind of totally.

And it’s just like paranormal romance involving dragon shifters, you know, very, very hot, very take charge men, but then also strong women. The first four books have a nurse protagonist and she’s also Chinese American as is my coauthor. And so Yeah. So those have been a delight mostly with has, it’s been super fun to write with somebody else to like kind of Vultron together into a writing team has been a great experience.

And then I wrote, I kind of mentioned books some about how much I wrote last year actually wrote like 400 pounds and word fiction last year. And that was because partially I had nothing else to do, but partially that was the only thing I had control of that I could do that could make myself feel better about myself at the time.

Really. You know, cause obviously when you’re the author, you’re in control of the, that you’re writing about. And so yeah, I had a great time with that series. It’s called the first book in the series is called dragon called by Kara Lockhart and Cassie Alexander. And Yeah, it’s a, it’s a fun read if that happens to be at all your jam.

I don’t know that it will appeal to everybody who reads your, the nurse is kind of why I’ve got my name, separate Cassie versus Cassandra. But but I, I like those books. They’re, they’re sexually wholesome and I think it’s nice to see people having functional relationships triumph over Evil and not evil, evil, like not the banal fire hose of evil.

We had last year evil, but you know, like villains and whatnot. It’s just nice to get that feeling when things go right for somebody in a book, you know? So it’s been fun to write that.

Corinna Bellizzi

Yeah. Well, I did read that first book in the series and I really enjoyed it. It was fun. So I almost liked it as much as your Edie Spence series.

I really love the Edie Spence series.

So thank you.

Thank you. Yeah. Now you mentioned the therapeutic effect of writing. I wondered if there were other recommendations you would make to people that might still be struggling with the COVID pandemic, any resources that are now available, that they should know about or things that you’d like to direct them.

Cassie Alexander

Um, Well, what’s been the most useful for me is my therapist is a EMDR certified, which is the type of therapy that they do for combat vets who have PTSD. And, you know, when you read that, you might think, oh, only people who are in the military has PTSD or, you know, nobody was shooting at me. It’s not the same thing, but you can actually have PTSD for a lot of different reasons.

And Her helping me to desensitize myself to the intrusive thoughts that I was having has made a world of difference in my ability to get through my day to day activities and so much so that I’m, you know, I think I’m going to be able to go back to work next month, which was not something that I even dreamed for the entire month of may.

So I would encourage people who think that they have PTSD too. Not necessarily the self diagnosed, but not to self exclude either. And to talk to a medical professional. And if you are found to have it then to find somebody who can maybe do it EMDR with you, it’s really good.

Corinna Bellizzi

That’s great. So is there a question that I haven’t asked that you wish.

Cassie Alexander

No, I just really appreciate you having on your show. Corinna. This is kind of nice to have like a chat with a friend. It’s good.

Corinna Bellizzi

All right. Well, I like to offer my guests the floor as we prepare to wrap-up. If there’s just one thought or idea that you want to leave our audience with something that you’d like them to take with them.

Cassie Alexander

Yeah, so it’s going to sound super strident, but Fox news is murdering people. And until we de platform people who are anti-vax and anti mask are going to be fighting COVID for a very long time. And there’s no reason for that to be going on. So if you have an opportunity to change the channel, do so , if you’re at a doctor’s office or under a military base or whatever, please change the channel to something slightly more sane.

And fight back against people who want to lie about COVID. It was awful and people who died deserve your honesty. So history is written by the survivors, you know, obviously, but a lot of people died who didn’t have to, and us nurses remember that. So don’t make us go through this again.

Corinna Bellizzi

Well, thank you, Cassie.

It’s been my pleasure to read both. Read your book and also interview you today. Nice to connect again with a friend now, listeners, I’d like to invite all of you to act. It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be as simple as getting a copy. Of the year, the nurse, a memoir. It could also be as simple as sharing this podcast with a friend with someone that you think would benefit from listening and from taking part in this conversation to find suggestions, visit our action page on

There you’ll find causes and companies that we encourage you to support. And I invite you to join our community. And join the conversation. You can follow us on social spaces @CareMoreBeBetter, or just send us an email to I want to hear from you. Thank you listeners, now and always for being a part of this pod and this community, because together we really can do so much more. We can care more and we can be better. Thank you.

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